27 Brands of Face Wash to Use If You Have Sensitive Skin
Article updated March 5, 2020.
Whether you live with a skin condition (such as psoriasis or eczema) or a chronic illness that affects your skin, it can be difficult to find skin care products that effectively cleanse your face without aggravating it. While harsh chemicals can certainly be a trigger for an outbreak, many people may also struggle with particular fragrances, oils or other ingredients.
With so many face wash choices out there, it’s hard to know where to start. If you live with a skin condition that makes you prone to symptoms like flushing, itching or redness, however, dermatologists typically recommend a few things to keep in mind to reduce skin irritation.
“People who have sensitive skin should look for more hydrating face washes,” Raman Madan, M.D., a dermatologist at Huntington Hospital at Northwell Health, told The Mighty. He added:
These tend to be more of the creamy face washes and not the kind that lather. They should be fragrance and alcohol free. The alcohol base can strip natural oils from the skin and irritate sensitive skin. Patients with sensitive skin should avoid products with lots of fragrance as they may cause an allergic reaction. They also should avoid face washes meant for acne that usually have exfoliating ingredients such as salicylic or glycolic acid as they can strip the natural oils from the skin.
You shouldn’t have to irritate your skin and risk a flare-up or allergic reaction in order to wash your face, so we asked our Mighty community to share which brands of face wash they use if they have sensitive skin.
Here are their recommendations:
Neutrogena offers a wide variety of skin care products to accommodate your individual skin type. The brand offers cleansers that are oil-free, hydrating, ultra gentle, natural or geared toward stubborn acne or blackheads.
I am allergic to sulfates and I have super sensitive skin, so I use Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (creamy formula) [featured above]. It is one of the few products that doesn’t irritate my skin. — Carrie W.
I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin face wash. I have acne-prone skin and it also gets dry in places. This stuff doesn’t break me out and leaves my face and neck so soft! — Sheri P.
Buy the cleanser above for $9.99 from Neutrogena.
2. Shea Moisture
Shea Moisture carries natural and organic personal care products made with 100 percent virgin coconut oil and Shea butter. Their African Black Soap, a popular product in our chronic illness community, is made from palm ash, tamarind extract, tar and plantain peel, which helps to calm and clear blemishes and troubled skin.
Shea Moisture – African Black Soap specifically. I have dermatitis and it’s been a god-send! The only thing that has helped and cleared up my skin. I get really bad sores and rashes but this has helped so much! — Ashley O.
[I use] African Black Soap by Shea Moisture and follow up with witch hazel and Acure sensitive skin moisturizer. — Tierra N.
Buy the facial mask above for $12.99 from Shea Moisture.
CeraVe skin care products were developed with dermatologists to be moisturizing while also targeting various skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or dry skin. The products are made with a blend of three essential ceramides, fatty acids and other lipids to help repair and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.
CeraVe facial cleanser for normal to dry skin. I have CREST, a mild form of scleroderma, and rosacea as well as skin cancer. CeraVe products were recommended from my dermatologist and I have finally found relief from terribly dry and itchy skin. — Tifney S.
CeraVe facial cleanser is great for my rosacea and super-sensitive skin. I like it better than Cetaphil. — Barbara R.M.
Buy the facial cleanser above for $13.91 from Amazon.
4. Live Clean
This Canadian company makes eco-friendly, plant-based personal care products without any harsh chemicals. Their Fresh Face line is more than 96% natural and plant-derived, hypoallergenic, made with essential oils and free of many irritating chemicals.
I use Live Clean products, the Fresh Face scrub and foaming face wash in particular. They’re really easy on my skin but get the job done. Their shampoos are nice, too. They’re made to be environmentally-friendly and low on harsh chemicals you find in a lot of similar products. — Sheila V.
Buy the facial scrub above for $23.99 from Amazon.
Norwex creates personal care products and cleaning products with the intention of reducing the use of harsh chemicals in the home. The lightweight, microfiber facial and body cloths (featured above) are antibacterial and only require hot water, making them useful for dry or sensitive skin without the need for any products.
I actually switched to using Norwex cloths. … They are actually made to be anti-bacterial, and you use them with no soap. I think they are a great idea for people with chemical sensitivity. Plus, you can buy one set and use them for ages. … I do still have acne, but it seems to keep my skin nice and clean. You do have to find a consultant in your area to order from, but still totally worth it. — Alicia T.
Buy the cloths above for $21.99 from Norwex.
The U.K. company Kokoso makes skin care products for babies, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t use the products, too! From moisturizer to hair and body wash, the products are created using raw virgin organic coconut oil to be gentle on the skin.
Having had hormonal acne for over 20 years (thanks endometriosis!), I have to be careful about what I use on my skin. Most of the time I just wash my face with water, but I also use Kokoso coconut oil. I just massage it in and then wipe off with a hot wet cloth. It’s great if you have makeup on as it will remove everything but it’s also very gentle and moisturizing for sensitive skin… Just make sure you remove it afterwards else you will be a bit greasy! — Shireen H.
Buy the moisturizer above for £5.49 from Kokoso.
7. Badger Balm
Badger is a family-run company from New Hampshire that uses organic plant extracts, exotic oils, beeswax and minerals to make safe and effective personal care products. Their facial cleansers are 100% natural, certified organic, hypoallergenic and can help dissolve makeup and reduce irritation and redness.
Badger Balm’s unscented face cleanser and face oil. I’m very chemically sensitive, so I can’t use non-natural brands. It’s fragrance-free, organic and incredibly nourishing for the skin. It’s so gentle, but works! It takes off my natural mascara with no problem. — Sarah L.
Buy the cleansing oil above for $15.99 from Badger Balm.
8. Eye Love
This 100 percent organic and natural lid and lash cleanser from Eye Love is designed to help soothe dry eyes, blepharitis, styes, gland dysfunction and dry, inflamed skin conditions. Made with hypochlorous acid, Heyedrate can kill microorganisms, neutralize inflammation and prevent biofilm formation. To use, spray once or twice on the closed eyelids, then pat dry.
Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser is great for sensitive skin. Great for inflammation. Super gentle, no residue left behind. Does not sting or irritate. — Llana H.
Buy the lid and lash cleaner above for $17.97 from Eye Love.
Cetaphil creates skin care products that are gentle, hydrating and fragrance-free. They make facial cleansers for normal and combination skin, dry skin (featured above) and oily skin. “Face washes that are lipid- and fragrance-free such as Cetaphil are a bonus for sensitive skin,” Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, told The Mighty.
Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser is awesome. No soap in it and there’s no residue left behind to clog pores. This and Dr. Bronner’s peppermint bar soap are the only two things I wash my face with. — Libby R.
I have rosacea that can’t be controlled, for some reason. I use Cetaphil Gentle cleanser and daily moisturizer. I’ve used them for about 10 years now.” — Diane Y.
Buy the skin cleanser above for $9.52 from Walmart.
Rodan+Fields is an anti-aging skin care brand created by two dermatologists to help people achieve a healthy, clear, even-toned complexion. The Soothe line is designed for those with sensitive skin to help reduce redness, peeling and dryness.
R&F Soothe line is amazing! My skin has become so sensitive and angry at almost every product I use. The Soothe line has been the only thing I can use. — Janine T.
Buy the face wash above for $44 from Rodan+Fields.
Vanicream is made by Pharmaceutical Specialties — a company that specializes in sensitive skin care products. Vanicream is mild, gentle and fragrance-free and includes a variety of products, including soap, face cleanser, moisturizer, deodorant and lotion.
I usually just use Vanicream bar soap. I have very sensitive skin and am allergic to carba ingredients like carbomer and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. — Erin P.
“Vanicream! It’s really gentle and cleans the skin amazingly. It’s also really hydrating. — Jessica H.
Buy the cleansing bar above for $4.79 from Walgreens.
12. Vital C
The Vital C Collection by Image Skincare is formulated for dry, sensitive and redness-prone skin and is meant to hydrate, nourish and revitalize. According to the company’s website, the product was physician-formulated, and may also be a good choice for post-op skin.
My esthetician got me started on Vital C by Image Skincare for my rosacea. My skin has never looked better in my whole life (of 40 years!) and I constantly get compliments now. — Diana E.B.
Buy the facial cleanser above for $32 from Image Skincare.
Developed by the International Dermal Institute, Dermalogica carries a variety of skin care products for people with all types of skin. They have an “ultracalming” line designed specifically for sensitivity or redness, and the cleanser (featured above) is non-foaming and helps calm and cool the redness and heat associated with reactive, sensitized or overprocessed skin.
Dermalogica has helped my hormonal cystic acne a lot. Having several conditions that all involve wonky hormone levels means I’m really prone to it. — The Invisible Hypothyroidism.
Buy the facial cleanser above for $39 from Dermalogica.
Bioré skin care products specifically target the pores by cleaning out clogged dirt and oil. The oil-free baking soda facial cleanser (featured above) deep cleans and exfoliates dry, flaky skin without using harsh chemicals. “The ingredients you should look out for if you have sensitive skin are parabens, phthalates or any harsh exfoliants — these can cause irritation to the skin, breakouts, extreme dryness, and can cause your skin’s pH level to fluctuate,” said Green.
I’m allergic to most skin care products but I am on hormones for endometriosis so my skin breaks out so much! So I use Bioré! I’ve never had a bad reaction to it and it works super well!! — Tracie G.
Bioré cream wash. Gentle but does the job. — Lauren H.
Buy the pore cleanser above for $7.99 from Walgreens.
Garnier has a variety of hair care and skin care products to accommodate all types of hair and skin. Their SkinActive gentle cleanser doesn’t contain any sulfates, alcohol, fragrance, parabens, oil or soap and removes face makeup, impurities and excess oil while softening skin.
I recently found Garnier has a gentle sulfate-free cleanser that works really well. I haven’t had an allergic reaction to it so far and I have really sensitive skin. — Samantha S.
Buy the facial cleanser above for $11.99 from Garnier.
DHC is a skin care company started in Japan that makes products using olive virgin oil and no parabens, colorants or added fragrance. The company’s Olive Concentrated Cleansing Oil (featured above) is designed for those with sensitive skin to deeply moisturize and help prevent future dryness.
Never in a million years would I have easily believed that using an olive oil cleanser would be the best money I ever spent for caring for my face. Perfect for sensitive skin, or for anyone. Great stuff! — Julie J.
Buy the cleansing oil above for $32 from DHC.
Clarins is a skin care company that offers a range of products for people with dry and sensitive skin. The cleanser above includes a gentle foaming cleanser with Shea butter and gypsophila. It’s designed to have a creamy texture that removes dirt and dead skin cells with preserving the moisture in your face.
I use Clarins for sensitive and dry skin. Nothing else. Also Clarins facial cream for very dry skin. I have Sjogren’s and very dry skin and this is all that works. — Dyanne T.
Buy the cleansing duo above for $26 from Clarins.
Avène skin care products are based in naturally soothing spring water and specifically designed for people with sensitive skin. Their products are typically hypoallergenic, soap-free, paraben-free and contain ceramides to help mositurize. “Face washes that also contain ceramides are wonderful for sensitive skin because they maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier and water retention,” Green shared.
Avène. It’s the only facial cleanser and moisturizer that doesn’t cause my face and neck to break out in an angry rash. — Shayla B.
Buy the cleansing oil above for $32 from Avène.
19. Liz Earle
Liz Earle is a British beauty company that creates products for all skin types. Their Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser is made with cocoa butter to soften, smooth and moisturize, and rosemary, chamomile and eucalyptus to tone, soothe and purify. The cleanser comes with a pure cotton cloth you can use to gently exfoliate.
I have really sensitive dry skin. I found that Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish is amazing. The muslin cloth exfoliates while still being very gentle. I wouldn’t be without it. — Verity R.
Buy the cleanser above for £17 from Liz Earle.
Simple offers a range of skin care products that are gentle enough for those with sensitive skin. None of their products have any dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants that could upset skin. The nourishing foaming cleanser (featured above) contains skin-loving ingredients and Pro-Vitamin B5 to remove impurities and remaining traces of makeup.
I tried for years to find something my face liked and have finally had success using Simple foaming cleanser! It’s really gentle and doesn’t make my skin angry. Ashley S.
Buy the cleanser above for $5.99 from Walmart.
Sukin creates natural skin, hair and body care products using cold-pressed, solvent-free oils, essential oils and 100% natural botanical extracts. Their Sensitive Range is made with chamomile, aloe vera and cucumber to cool and soothe dry skin, and rosehip, sesame, jojoba and avocado oils to hydrate delicate skin.
Sukin, Australian Natural Skincare, Sensitive Range. Sulphate and paraben-free. It is very gentle and mild, while leaving your skin feeling clean and soft. I love it, it is one of the few facial cleansers I can use without any reaction. — Johanna B.
Buy the cleansing lotion above for $8.99 from Sukin.
22. Purity Made Simple
Philosophy carries a range of personal care products, including their Purity Made Simple line of face and body cleanser. The facial cleanser (featured above) gently deep cleans pores, eliminates makeup build-up and conditions skin using natural oil extracts. It is formulated for all skin types — even sensitive — and is gentle enough to use in the eye area.
I currently am living for my Philosophy Purity cleanser! Gentle enough to remove makeup and gives me a deep cleanse when I’ve been too sick to shower or wash my face for up to a few days. — Eileen D.
Philosophy Purity is the only thing that touches my skin.” — Joan W.
Buy the face cleanser above for $24 from Sephora.
It’s not just for kids. Johnson’s body wash may be marketed for babies, but it can be useful for anyone with extra-sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic, free of parabens, phthalates, soaps or dyes and is as gentle on the eyes as pure water.
I use Johnson & Johnson’s baby wash for my sensitive skin. — Kaitlyn Y.
I use Johnson’s baby wash.” Shonda R.C.
Buy the body wash above for $9.42 from Amazon.
Aveeno uses natural ingredients to make a variety of skin, hair and body care products. Their “ultra-calming” line of facial products for people with sensitive skin is fragrance-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic. The products also reduce redness and lift away dirt, oil and makeup while still being gentle and soothing.
Aveeno ultra-calming foaming cleanser. So great on my sensitive skin and rosacea. — Donna L.
Aveeno sensitive. It helps a lot and doesn’t break me out in pimples or hives. — Ryan S.
Buy the cleanser above for $6.37 from Walmart.
Clinique carries a wide range of skin care products and makeup for many different types of skin. Their products also target different concerns, such as acne, dryness or redness. The cleansing gel featured above, part of the Acne Solutions line, is medicated and oil-free and can help clear breakouts and blackheads, unclog pores and control oil.
I use Clinique acne solutions. It’s the only face wash that doesn’t irritate my skin.” — Noni E.
Clinique. I’ve tried others over the years and always come back to Clinique. — Sue L.
Buy the cleansing gel above for $22 from Clinique.
26. Lush Dark Angels Scrub
Designed for people who have oily and sensitive skin, Lush’s Dark Angels scrub uses a combination of charcoal exfoliate, sugar and Rhassoul mud to absorb oils while soothing irritation and redness. Organic avocado oil and sandalwood oil help add non-oily hydration back into your skin.
The only face wash I’ve ever been able to use long term, is Dark Angels from Lush. One truly amazing product! — Hayley M.
Buy the facial scrub above for $14.95 from Lush.
27. It Works! Facial Cleanser Gel
If you’re looking for a soap-free cleanser, It Works! brand cleanser gel is designed to gently remove dirt and oil while leaving a moisture-rich finish. Botanical ingredients like lavender oil, flower extract and green tea clean without drying your skin. It’s designed for all skin types and can even be used anywhere on your body, including for shaving.
I use miracellar cleansing water to remove my make-up and wash with It Works cleanser! Plant-based, all natural, and great for sensitive skin. My skin usually gets red and dry but not with this stuff. — Catherine E.
Buy the cleanser shown above for $48.45 from Amazon.
If you’re unsure about what face wash to use to prevent break outs or a flare-up in symptoms, you can also reach out to your doctor for advice.
“It’s important to find the right face wash to prevent further symptoms from occurring,” said Dr. Green. “If you’re unsure which products to purchase, always consult with a dermatologist to help recommend the best skincare routine for your skin type.”
What brands of face wash do you use for sensitive skin? Let us know in the comments below!